NASA will host a media briefing at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT) Thursday, Oct. 9, to outline the space and Earth-based assets that will have extraordinary opportunities to image and study a comet from relatively close range to Mars on Sunday, Oct. 19. The briefing will be held in NASA Headquarters’ auditorium, 300 E Street SW in Washington, and broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
• Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington
• Kelly Fast, program scientist, Planetary Science Division
• Carey Lisse, senior astrophysicist, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland
• Padma Yanamandra-Fisher, senior research scientist, Space Science Institute, Rancho Cucamonga Branch, California
Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will miss Mars by only about 88,000 miles (139,500 kilometers). That is less than half the distance between Earth and its Moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. The comet’s nucleus will come closest to Mars at about 2:27 p.m. EDT (11:27 a.m. PDT), hurtling at about 126,000 mph (56 kilometers per second), relative to Mars… [More about the comet here, and more about the briefing here.]